Friday, October 18, 2013
Game preview: Oklahoma at Kansas
By Brandon Chatmon
The Sooners hope it was a one-time aberration.
Oklahoma will look to rebound after a disappointing 36-20 loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry when the Sooners travel to Lawrence, Kan. on Saturday. The Sooners passing game has been horrible in Big 12 play, so OU will be hoping to find some type of success through the air against the Jayhawks.
Here are some storylines, players to watch and a prediction:
Can Oklahoma’s passing game improve? The Sooners coaches have continually pointed to the rest of the offense, not just quarterback Blake Bell for OU’s passing struggles against TCU and Texas. OU is averaging 134.7 passing yards in three Big 12 games and won’t put itself back into the Big 12 title race unless that improves.
Who is the Sooners’ quarterback of the future? While Bell is expected to start against Kansas the real question is who will emerge as the guy under center for the Sooners. If Bell continues to perform like he did in the Red River Rivalry, he opens the door for Trevor Knight or Kendal Thompson to seize an opportunity in OU’s offensive backfield.
Will OU try to send a message? We will found out how mad the Sooners are about their loss to the Longhorns on Saturday. If they come out active, intense and execute well, they will have learned from the Red River Rivarly. If not, there’s no reason to believe OU will acheive any of its goals this season.
Players to watch
OU quarterback Blake Bell: It’s simple, Bell needs to play well or risk being replaced. The coaching staff can’t like the thought of changing quarterbacks over and over again but they can’t be satisfied with their current production on offense either.
OU defensive tackle Jordan Wade: With Jordan Phillips out, the Sooners need Wade to learn and adapt quickly in the middle. Big 12 teams are certain to try to follow the blueprint the Texas Longhorns used to beat OU by running the ball right at them.
OU receiver Jalen Saunders: The senior has to be getting frustrated about his lack of production. Saunders has been targeted at least five times in every game this season yet has had a hard time connecting with Bell or Knight. His 9.2 yards per catch average is well below the preseason expectations for the explosive receiver. He’s a guy who can spark the Sooners’ passing game so OU needs to find ways to help him do that.
Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Kansas 21. The Sooners defense is dominant and the running game continues to be a foundation of the offense. A few Jayhawk turnovers and a couple of big plays on offense is enough for OU to cruise to its first road win in conference play.